Initiated and referendum study okayed

Apr 18, 2017

Rep. Pam Anderson (D-Fargo)
Credit ND Legislature

Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo).
Credit ND Legislature

The Legislature has passed and sent to Governor Burgum a bill that creates a commission to study North Dakota’s initiative and referral process.

Study subjects include the  costs of placing such measures on the ballot and whether there should be limits on out of state funding of measures.

The committee’s make-up became a point of contention in the House. The measure says the commission will have six legislators, with one being a Democrat. The Governor would appoint 7 people. The Greater North Dakota Chamber, the North Dakota Newspaper Association, the Farm Bureau and the Farmers’ Union would each have a member. The chief justice of the state Supreme Court would appoint the commission’s chairman. And the Secretary of State would be a non-voting member.

Rep.Pam Anderson (D-Fargo) argued the commission is too weighted in terms of state government.

"This commission isn't a citizens' commission," Anderson said. "Rather, it's a commission appointed by those who already control the power at the state Capitol."

But Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) disagreed.

"Remember, all these people are going to be citizens," Kasper said. "Just like every one of us here in the body -- we're citizens."

The bill passed the House 71 to 19. It has already passed the Senate.